Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East. The people live and work and conduct their lives with dignity as they try to earn enough money to survive. Many have become the working poor. Prices for food and housing have risen out of the reach of the average Israeli. Unemployment numbers are low, but it does not reflect the human condition on the ground. One can’t blame the Haredim who make up 5-10% of the population. Though full employment of the Ultra Orthodox would add 1% to GDP ; their lack of contribution to society is not a realistic reason to blame the country’s economics on them. Rather, it was proposed, blame the foreign investors in this country, who purchase expensive houses and contribute nothing to society. They , in fact should be taxed, proportional to their real estate purchased. Like in Norway, the wealthy pay a fine on speeding, proportional to their income.
Should the Haredim be encouraged to enter Community Service, yes. Integration into Society, even marginally, will be better for them. More dialog and understanding of the ” other” promotes understanding and caring and a lessening of the scape goat effect. Remove their stigma and you can concentrate on real societal problems.
The sword of Damocles literally hangs over Israel and Israeli’s. Given their moral code of TIKKUN OLAM , it is not reasonable to assume that they want War over Peace. But the Military is necessary in this unfriendly neighborhood. There are no alternatives, if they must protect themselves on a daily basis?
I arrived in Israel on Sunday morning, on Monday. I witnessed 4 fighter jets take off from the South in retaliation for the morning Gaza Bombing of Sderot? Justice is swift but not pre- emptive . As I left Haifa on November 1st, Israeli planes flew into Syria to take out the Russian missiles to be provided to Hezbollah in Lebanon. Unless real and lasting Peace is achieved Israel has to maintain their War readiness.
Meanwhile, one wonders , about the Israeli and Palestinian attitude toward Peace. Since January 20, 2013 the Israeli’s are no longer certain there will be Peace in the region. I did not get a positive feeling from the PLO at that time either. Now, 10 months later the Israeli’s are disheartened and so are the Palestinians. Though some of the population on both sides promote Peace and the Israelis look to BiBi to make Peace, the question remains , who on the Palestinian side wants Peace and is capable of speaking for all of their people?